The Moore Township Board of Supervisors met at 7 p.m. on July 7 at the Moore Township Recreation Center.
After an increase in complaints of fireworks being shot off, the Moore Township Board of Supervisors had township Solicitor David Backenstoe take a look at the state fireworks law to determine what action the Board of Supervisors could possibly pursue.
“Apparently fireworks are a huge problem everywhere in the state, in particular the bigger cities like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and even Allentown and Bethlehem,” said Backenstoe. “You’ll recall that at one time Pennsylvania had very limited fireworks. You couldn’t purchase any kind of extensive fireworks in Pennsylvania.
“In 2017 the legislature enacted Act 43 which really materially changed everything you knew about fireworks, and I mean everything,” Backenstoe went on to say. “I guess the easiest way to break it down was to really talk about the two types of fireworks that they created in the statute.”
One type is consumer grade and the other is professional displays. Consumer grade fireworks went from sparklers and little Black Cat fireworks, to Roman candles and bottle rockets. The other is professional displays. If someone comes to do those, they have to be a licensed pyro technician, the site has to be inspected, and there must be a $1 million bond or insurance with the township.
“One thing is you absolutely cannot regulate the sale (of consumer grade fireworks),” Backenstoe said. “So if they are selling fireworks and it’s zoned properly, you cannot regulate what people can buy, can’t buy, that’s state law. Now, how does the state law regulate the use of these fireworks, bottle rockets and Roman candles, these pretty powerful explosives? You cannot discharge them within 150 feet of an occupied structure. You cannot ignite or discharge them on private or public property without the owner’s permission. You can’t discharge them within or towards a motor vehicle. And the person discharging the fireworks cannot be under the influence of alcohol. What can townships do? Literally not much. You can regulate, I think, the hours of operation.”
Backenstoe went on to explain how the Lehigh Township solicitor adopted a new ordinance a year or two ago. They tried to regulate the hours fireworks could be shot off based on the holiday. New Year’s Eve you could shoot off fireworks until 1 a.m. Fourth of July you could until 11 p.m., other holidays until 10 p.m. Then other days you were not supposed to after 9 p.m. Backenstoe also gave the Board of Supervisors a copy of a fireworks ordinance he received from the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, which was adopted in Doylestown.
The Council of Governments has decided to write a stern letter to the state legislators about the fireworks and the Moore Township Board of Supervisors is expected to sign that letter to express their dissatisfaction with the law. The Board of Supervisors decided to table any action until the COG comes out with their letter to the state legislators.
The next Moore Township Board of Supervisors meeting will be at 7 p.m. on August 4.